3. THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY TO REMOVE THE STAIN OF SIN--BAPTISM.
Baptism (immersion in water for the remission of sins that is preceded by a penitent faith) is the washing that God has instructed us to do in order to remove the stain of sin. You see, these spots are unyielding to ordinary cleansers. You can't lather up your soul with soap to remove the stains. You can't use bleach either. God made this clear when He told the rebellious Jews - "'For though you wash yourself with lye, and use much soap, yet your iniquity is marked before Me,' says the Lord God" (Jer. 2:22). Peter expressed a similar thought when he wrote - "There is an antitype which now saves us - baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (I Pet. 3:21).
God never wanted anyone to think that rinsing away physical dirt could whiten a dirty, sin-stained soul. The grime goes much deeper than the skin. It goes right to the heart of man, which is the reason why the Bible says - "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water" (Heb. 10:22).
Sin stains are eliminated only by using God's cleansing agent. The soul of man is cleansed by being washed in the blood of Jesus Christ (cf. Rev. 1:5; 7:14). Purification of a soul requires obeying the truth (cf. I Pet. 1:22). Saul obeyed when he was told - "Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16; 26:19).
You see, when one follows the Lord's instructions for how to clean his soul, he will learn that he must be baptized in order for the blood of Jesus to cleanse him from sin. One spiritually contacts the shed blood of Jesus in baptism. We know this because those who are baptized are immersed into the death of Christ (cf. Rom. 6:3). The blood of Jesus was shed in His death. Therefore, baptism initially puts a soul in touch with the cleansing blood of the Savior. But, what happens when one sins again after becoming a Christian? Is there a need to be baptized again for continued forgiveness? Certainly not. Proper baptism needs to be performed only once, because after becoming a Christian, one's sins are continually washed away if he remains loyal to God. The faithful Christian continues to have access to the cleansing blood as he walks in the light (cf. I John 1:7).
So, the Scriptures plainly teach that sins are removed only by the "washing" of baptism. Unfortunately, many people are convinced that their souls can be cleansed without being washed. Satan has deceived souls from the beginning (e.g., I Tim. 2:14). Satan is in the dry-cleaning business and he has a multitude of preaching servants (cf. II Cor. 11:13-15). When they preach salvation by "faith only" they are preaching a dry-cleaning message! The Bible teaching on salvation is simple if one takes the time to examine all of the truth with an open mind. Clearly, man cannot be saved by faith only as James 2:24 shows - "Man is justified by works, and not by faith only." You can't be much clearer than that, yet most denominations seem to ignore this truth since they can't harmonize it with their false beliefs. Let everyone understand that a "faith only" message can save no one, since water has been left out of the plan by man. Such teaching will tickle the ears of many (cf. II Tim. 4:3,4), but it will leave them in their sins! I ask you dear listeners, which would you rather have? Would you rather have the God-given truth that contains the power to wash away sins or a made-up lie that is pleasing to listen to but leaves one's soul stained and condemned before God? We must remember that the Bible is God's word and it is not for us to rewrite it as we please. If God says sin must be washed away, then we'd be wise to do just that! Paul pronounced the curse of heaven upon those who pervert the gospel:
"I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:6-9).
We will continue these thoughts in our next lesson.